Something for the Christmas Tree

A lot of conversation in the inter-married world at this time of year is about the so-called “December Dilemma.” How do we celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas? I was raised by two Jewish parents in a neighborhood with only two other Jewish families. Each year my dad set up the white fake Christmas tree upon which we hung silver, blue, and white tinsel and ornaments. Each night of Hanukkah, we got to open two presents – one practical (underwear, socks) and one fun (books, bikes, dolls). If there were any presents left over (and there always were!) we got to open those on Christmas morning. My father didn’t have much of a religious upbringing, but my mother was raised in a modern Orthodox family before there was such a thing as modern Orthodox.

But back to the tree … I don’t remember if we ever had anything to put on the top. I am certain we didn’t put a “Christian” star – but I wish we had one of these. The magazine we all read on the plane, SkyMall, has introduced a Christmas tree topper geared towards families who celebrate both holidays.

What are your thoughts on this product? While we at JOI do not necessarily advocate for celebrating both holidays, some families have chosen to take this path, and we hope that in doing so, they are able to fully explain the meaning of both holidays to their children. It can be a tricky situation when mixing religious holidays with things like Jewish star Christmas toppers.

In our house there was no “dilemma” – we just got to have both. Until I was in Junior High School, I didn’t know that Christmas was a religious holiday. Though I did know that I should only mouth the word “Jesus” in all the songs we sang for the Christmas concert each December!


  1. Jamie- Barbara Goldstein was just in the states, flying all over, and had an opportunity to see that Sky Mall ad. She couldn’t believe it. Maybe appalled is more like it. Then again, she isn’t living her anymore - things change.

    Comment by Liz Alpert — December 6, 2011 @ 10:58 pm

  2. Thanks for your comment, Liz. I get her point - and have heard from many that they find it appalling. But I’ve also heard from many that it helps them to bridge their relationship and cultural (even inside the Jewish community) divide. I found it appalling last night when watching the Michael Buble Christmas Show that he had these two little girls equating Hanukkah and Christmas. I think it’s been many years that the Jewish community has allowed (and even encouraged) Hanukkah to be the equivalent of Christmas. In Israel - it is observed very differently.

    Comment by Jamie Black — December 7, 2011 @ 10:13 am

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